Animal Aid : 30 years of campaigning for cruelty-free living

Olive and Bill Bean

Olive & Bill Bean

In 1978, we joined around 150 caring people for the first meeting of what turned into Bournemouth & Poole Animal Aid. We saw the potential of Animal Aid and admired the dedication and courage of its founder, Jean Pink.

We started leafleting in Bournemouth Square every Saturday and as funds were almost at nil, Bill photocopied handwritten leaflets and painted colour posters. We arranged meetings every month in Bournemouth in a hall seating 200-300 people, and we could soon afford to book some of the best animal rights speakers. By this time, most of us had become veggies, so we organised stalls selling vegan food, along with our jumble sales and collections. Bill also organised exhibitions of his paintings to raise funds.

Our Christmas meetings deserve special mention because we had such fun – the hall was decorated and the smell of our delicious free vegan food filled the air. We had famous chefs to demonstrate vegan Christmas recipes and an auction with items given by famous people. The hall always overflowed.

We were soon able to afford coaches to Animal Aid protest marches and rallies all over the UK, where Jean Pink inspired us all with her wonderful speeches. We also helped to organise Living Without Cruelty meetings several times a year.

We arranged local marches and a motorcade to Porton Down - the notorious Ministry of Defence vivisection laboratory. Around 30 vehicles took part, decorated with posters and with headlights and air horns blaring.

Poole had a tatty little ‘zoo’ that was forced to close after a campaign in which we wrote articles for the papers, talked to the media and held peaceful demonstrations. We spent many hours protesting against Live Exports from Poole Harbour, with great success. Bournemouth Airport rejected the trade after we described the cruelty on local TV news.

We are now around 80 years old and have had to slow down a little. But Bill still writes to the newspapers and is sometimes asked to write articles on animal rights. We became vegans for compassionate reasons 28 years ago, and have been granted the unexpected bonus of good health as a reward. We have seen many changes over the years – especially in the public’s increased compassion towards animals – due, we’re convinced, to Animal Aid’s lead 30 years ago.

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